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Source: NMHS Newsletter May 2005

Remembering West Ward School

by Jack Miller

It was 1926 and we kids were quite excited as we marched out the front entrance of our West Ward grade school. Mr. Rice, of Rice Studios was standing out there behind that big camera perched on top of a tripod. There was confusion for a bit as grades were lined up on the front steps. "Sixth grade and teachers on top step, fifth grade next step down, third and fourth grades next step down, you second graders on your knees and the first graders sit on the bottom row."

Finally Mr. Rice was satisfied that every young face was visible, and then he and the camera hid under a black shawl. With the command, "Hold it!" everyone held their breath. A sigh went up as Mr. Rice's head came out from under that black shawl. "All right," he called out. "You boys on the third row stop that shoving and we will try it again." I was standing on the third row, fifth from the left hand side, next to Lawrence Reed. It must have been Larry Reed. It's hard to remember after 79 years. Anyway, this picture is as clear and sharp as it was that May day so long ago.

The teachers standing in the top center... were everything teachers stood for -- dedicated to seeing that each of us kids would leave that school able to do our reading, writing, and arithmetic. The lady on the left with the gray hair was Martha Winesburg, first and second grade teacher. She taught my dad in the first and second grade, as she did me. What a wonderful patient lady she was. A long overdue tribute was paid to her when, in 1929, the school name was changed to Martha Winesburg.

Nitus Hall was the school principal who taught the sixth grade. He was the law and we spirited boys on the west end of North Manchester understood that. In his office was a wooden paddle about two inches wide. When that connected with the seat of a boy's corduroy pants, the whack could be heard all over the school. The whack wasn't so bad, but returning back to your class with tears in your eyes had everybody staring at you. That was the punishment. How do I know? Well...really.

The teacher standing next to Mr. Hall was Carrie Bard, the terror of all who did not produce in her fifth grade class. I mentioned her name to Jack West the other day (one of those "west end boys") and he shuddered with recalling. Miss Bard was a good teacher and she never let up on me from the slump I had at that time because my parents divorced.

The young teacher next to Miss Bard was Susie Shock who taught third and fourth grade. I was in the fourth grade when Miss Shock replaced Miss Thomas, who had been the third and fourth grade teacher. Poor Miss Shock, fresh out of teacher's college and facing the West End torrent. No --she got along very well with us kids. Probably too nice to us fourth graders, considering what was ahead of us in that fifth grade upstairs.

Okay, many of the faces in that 1926 picture are gone now, but I know some of us are still kicking. Perhaps "shuffling" would describe it better. Hey! Drop The Paper, Wabash, Indiana a line and let us know where you are. We would like to hear from you former students of West Ward School/ Martha Winesburg School/ Maple (Grove) Park School.

Printed in 'the paper' May 3, 2005. Reprinted with permission of Jack Miller